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Some say data is the new oil, but how do you know if you’re sitting on crude or refined?

Some say data is the new oil, but how do you know if you’re sitting on crude or refined?

A best practice media strategy uses the best available data to your advantage, read on for an overview of what you should be considering to fuel your media buying.

Firstly, there are three varieties of data most commonly referred to in this space; first second and third party. While this may be elementary, the nature of these bands is changing rapidly. The last 12 months alone has seen big developments and with rapid change comes knowledge black spots – but also opportunity and innovation.

One key to developing a coherent media strategy leveraging available data is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each type. Let’s take a look;

First Party Data – the base of your media buying strategy

First party data is the most valuable data you possess. In many ways it is the most powerful implement in the digital marketer’s toolbox.

It provides a direct source of information on your current and past customers, enabling you better communicate with your customer base. It can offer clear insights into their behaviour and identifies the ‘low hanging fruit’ for repeat sales, it’s integral to earning repeat business.

Through first party data marketers can determine customer retention strategies and provide strong guidance for prospecting for new clients by painting a picture of similar audiences. And while using traditional email and marketing automation to leverage this data is great, today there are new, innovative options available, with identity link technology (such as that offered by technology company live ramp), that allow you to communicate 1:1 to known customers across multiple channels.

These solutions allow marketers to locate their customers across multiple platforms and devices, including mobile devices, catch up TV, social channels and more. This opens up creative ways to engage using ad formats such as video, display, native and others.

Harnessing these opportunities is, however, dependent on a certain degree of organisation around your customer data and establishing your readiness will require a full data audit as a starting point. This often calls for third party assistance. If a genuine delve into first party data is desired, then enlisting expert help is the best way forward.

Second party data – personalisation with permission 

Second party data in is another entity’s first-party data and there is now a significant market of verifiable, accurate and deep data sources that can be purchased to aid in campaign targeting, segmentation and on-target audience delivery.

This data is subject to rigorous quality control and marketers can pick and choose where they want to acquire it from. Using second-party data effectively will help you find new customers and, ideally move them into your first party data set by way of a purchase.

Access to second-party data sets for media buying is much more readily available now than in previous years. This data provides transparent, trusted and rich consumer insights that are ideal for prospecting and/or brand campaigns. Offering a range of targeting capabilities, these data sets rival the massive walled gardens of Facebook and Google for accuracy, depth and ease of application.

Brands looking to find new customers can now purchase some of the most extensive data sets in the country. For example, Coles fly buys has over eight million records, while Woolworths’ has a similar product available through its data business Quantium. Qantas’s Frequent Flyer program is another dataset with millions of accessible records.

These data sets are regularly updated, verified and contain significant information about anonymised consumers. This ranges from basic demographic information such as age, gender, geographic location to much more advanced segmentation like shopping habits, purchase behaviour, life stage and lifestyle characteristics.

Fly buys for instance (which is Coles loyalty program) covers 25% of all retail sales in Australia and has been verified by media measurement company Nielsen to have 87%+ accuracy on its top line data (age, gender etc).

In an exciting development it is now possible to “close the loop” on campaign reporting and measure sales in store off the back of the campaign, providing a level of reporting and ROI analysis never before possible. This data is deterministic in nature, which means it is based on actual information provided by the consumer, differentiating it from much third-party data.

Third party data – the grey area

Generally speaking, third party data is the least reliable band of data. It is gathered somewhat less transparently, via online behavioural information gleaned from sources like web publishers using cookies.

As it is collected via an entity that doesn’t have a direct relationship with the user, it tends to rely heavily on inference. This makes it less robust and precise than first and second party data. Despite these drawbacks, it can assist marketers in boosting a campaign by providing additional reach and scale. Since it is often aggregated together from smaller data sets into a larger whole, it can add to a data driven media buy and is recommended to use in a test-and-learn capacity.


Smart, transparent and reliable data driven buying is an important component of a successful media strategy today. Understanding the importance of the data options available is a key step in maximising your media planning output.

Thanks to the recent improvements in the organisation and access to first and second party data sets in Australia, marketers are better equipped than ever to draw sharper insights, deploy and activated with permission with trust and reliability across multiple channels and platforms in the digital space, driving digital marketing into the next phase of sophistication.